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The curious case of Jake Arrieta

Right-hander Jake Arrieta is 26, so he is beyond true prospect status.

In parts of three seasons with the Orioles, he is 19-23 with a 5.27 ERA in 58 starts. He was 3-9 with a 6.13 ERA in 18 starts with the Orioles this year when he was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk.

This isn't what the confident Arrieta or the Orioles expected of the guy who was the 2012 Opening Day starter.

Yet it seems that outside of uber-prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, Arrieta is currently the most coveted Oriole by potential trading partners.

According to several sources, most clubs in trade deadline discussions with the Orioles have asked for Arrieta. And the Orioles haven't come close to hearing anything that would motivate them to move him.

That's not to say Arrieta is untouchable. But the Orioles aren't selling him at even a partial discount and most teams see him as just part of a centerpiece in a deal. They want to buy low, and Orioles still view Arrieta as a legit major league arm.

According to one industry source, the San Diego Padres asked for Arrieta and two other prospects in a potential trade for third baseman Chase Headley. Although I don’t know other names, one of the prospects that was asked for is believed to be a high-ceiling player at Low-A Delmarva. The Orioles dismissed that one and several others that appear to be seizing on Arrieta’s status in the minors.

The Orioles think the right-hander with the 96-mph fastball still has a chance to meet his high ceiling.

And so do personnel from other clubs.

I asked eight scouts -- all from opposing teams -- in the past week to order the Orioles' five, mid-20s starters who have been on the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle from most coveted to least.

Of the eight, only one didn't name Arrieta first. He had Arrieta second and Zach Britton first.

Most everyone else listed Britton second and Tommy Hunter fifth.

Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman were almost evenly split between third and fourth, though Matusz received one second-place vote.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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